As I sat in the living room on Christmas Day with my family, I couldn't help but think
"This won't happen again...all of us here, right now, in this same room".
Next year is bound to be different- every year is. Someone will choose to spend Christmas with another side of the family or go out of town. For whatever the reason, it is very rare to have the exact same people in that room each year. And that's okay, because life happens and people have other loved ones to spend their time with and new memories to make. So we should hold onto it while it happens.
So I did. I observed. I watched my 20 year old cousin who I can't believe is 20 snuggle up to her newly engaged older sister and make knowing looks to her younger brother. I watched by brother in law tease my boyfriend. I watched my cousin Michelle beam with pride as she spoke of her father who passed unexpectedly in July. I watched my dad smile as he told his stories that made us all laugh. I watched my nephew run around the room looking for someone to play with him. And what I witnessed was pure beauty. Each of us made a unique group. A special group. And together we celebrated Christmas, family, health, and happiness.
The other thing is that a lot happens in a year. We're all changed people from one Christmas to the next. Some good changes, some not so good. But what doesn't change is the genuine love we have for one another...because we are family. Family stands by each other, family supports each other as we grow and as we change. Family never turns their back.
This goes back to the point I've been making a lot in my blogs, ever since my dad was diagnosed with cancer in 2013: We must cherish each moment we are given. I said in the paragraph above that a lot happens in a year. We all know this. But a lot can happen in a day, too. Good and bad. Exciting and scary. And our jobs as humans, and as family and friends, is to support each other through those changes. Facebook and social media has made it easier to congratulate each other on our little successes and to support through the hard times. Make it a point to let people know that you care. That you'll be there.
Getting back to Christmas get togethers, I wish that we would get together like that more often...and without reason. I only see my cousins on holiday's or at weddings or funerals. I hate that, because each time you say goodbye you know it will be months, maybe even a year or two, before you see them again. I would love to be able to just get together. But we don't- why? Probably because we are busy with our own lives. I mean, I barely even see any of my closest friends on a weekly or monthly basis. Everyone has a job or kids or family or outside activities that take precedence...myself included! But I should maybe start to practice the art of spontaneity....like invite my cousin Shannon to dinner or send my long distance aunts and uncles cards just to let them know I am thinking of them.Family and friends are important, and it's time we start treating each other as such.
Next Christmas a new group, some the regulars, some new, some missing, will gather again. We will laugh, we will embrace, we will talk and share stories. And it will be different, but it will be just as beautiful.